Who doesn’t love a great silhouette photo? I’m pretty much addicted and silhouettes are such a fun way to end a session with a client!
Here are a few tips to capture a great silhouette photo:
You’ll want to find a spot that has a strong light source. That could be the sky at sunset, a window with great light coming in, etc. Place your subject between you and the light source. Make sure there aren’t any disctracting elements behind them, or that you can find an angle to capture them so that it doesn’t affect the outline of their sihouette. (for example: trees or buildings)
2. Find Your Settings
I like to be in manual mode so that I have control over all of my settings. The main thing you have to remember about photographing silhouettes outdoors is the secret is to expose for the sky! I often start with a low ISO and set my f-stop higher and meter off the sky to get it properly exposed. You definitely don’t want to over expose your sky! Take a sample shot, adjust as needed, and you’re ready to bring in your subject. You can try this at any time of day, people often choose to do it a sunset because of the colors and low position of the sun. If you do this during the day, just be careful that you don’t look directly into the sun for too long! If you are wanting to get the “sunburst” effect, try setting your f-stop to a higher setting like f-22.
Pay attention to the posing of your subject. For a subject that’s standing along, pay attention to the legs and arms so they don’t look weird in camera. Shift the weight in the legs, create shape in the arms by positioning arms, pay attention to how the hair is falling and affecting the outline of the face. If it’s a couple, create space between them so they don’t become a blob in the photo. For families, have them all hold hands or get the kids to jump like the photo above! (If you have a moving subject, make sure your shutter speed is high enough to freeze them. Also, be sure to get down low so that your subject is mostly against the sky.
4. Post Processing
This part varies from person to person based upon your style. For the most part, you’ll want to adjust the contrast to darken your shadows or play with the blacks slider (in Lightroom). Bumping saturation for the sky in the levels in Lightroom will give your colors that extra pop too.